Curriculum and instruction can be thought of as the "what" and "how" of education. Curriculum is the academic content to be presented, and instruction is the method by which it is delivered. And, although curriculum directors, specialists and instructional coordinators are often tasked with curriculum and instruction (C&I) design, in the final analysis, we depend on teachers to put C&I design into effective, daily practice.
Developing an advanced understanding of effective C&I in practice is one of the ways teachers can make a significant impact on their own teaching as well as the quality of student learning in their classrooms. Emporia State University's online Master of Science in C&I – Effective Practitioner PreK-12 program is aimed specifically at helping teachers achieve this end.
What Makes C&I in Practice an Ongoing Process?
C&I design and implementation are not and should not be static or stagnant. Academic content evolves with the times, reflecting social, cultural and environmental changes as well as developments in human understanding and global progress. How that content is taught and learned also changes, as teachers incorporate new technologies, forms of assessment and instruction methods into their daily routines.
Interpretation of both curriculum and instruction should also be based on and responsive to each individual student's background, culture and learning needs. Ideally, C&I development is an ongoing process, responding to the changing needs of today's diverse student body in real time.
What Does the Study of C&I for the Effective Practitioner Involve?
ESU's C&I program reflects the fluid nature of effective C&I design and implementation. Coursework relates all aspects of leadership strategy, curriculum design, and instruction and assessment methodology to contemporary issues, cultural influences and innovations in education. Topics include effective technology integration, the differentiation of instruction and assessment, action research, and brain-based learning. ESU also provides opportunities to apply theories and strategies to real-life experience through a field-based practicum.
How Can this Study Help Teachers and Students in the Classroom?
If teachers are fluent in contemporary curriculum design strategy, they are better prepared to understand the intended learning outcomes behind what they teach. They are also positioned to have the most accurate understanding of their students' specific learning needs as well as prevalent cultural influences on those students and the school community. Using this insight and their knowledge of multiple instruction methods and technologies, teachers can create classroom environments, lessons and assessments to help each student both learn and demonstrate mastery of concepts in ways best suited to their individual strengths and needs.
In addition to classroom benefits, when teachers have the skills to accurately assess the effectiveness of C&I design in practice, they become valuable resources for further C&I development. This feedback loop is essential to the improvement cycle of C&I design as it adapts to changes like technology integration and student diversity.
Effective education as a whole is rooted in responsive C&I design and its implementation by effective practitioners. And, as direct practitioners, teachers and teacher leaders are an integral part of the process. In earning an MS in C&I — Effective Practitioner PreK-12 online from ESU, teachers expand their knowledge of and competency with contemporary C&I design and implementation. Using this knowledge, teachers will improve the quality of their teaching practices, the content of their school's curriculum, and in the end, student learning for modern, diverse populations.
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